Another week, another flurry of articles and heated discussions here on Seoulbeats! This week you Seoulmates discussed things like K-pop in the UK, the painkiller that is SPICA, 4Minute and their vampire fetish, the good old days of JinuSean, all the pretty on tumblr, cracking the case that is SM, the not so fashionable ‘Fashion King,’ unpopular opinions on After School, K-pop idols and tertiary education, the hilarity that is ‘Rooftop Prince’, EXO’s long awaited debut, ‘Moon/Sun’ and it’s fall out, the K-Pop cover story, and you all got trolled by our April’s fools joke. Phew, try saying all of that in one breath. So without further ado, here’s the five standout comments of this week!
Conversation on K-pop’s Faulty Perception of the Homogenous West:
One thing that sorta bothers me is this idea that once you have Caucasian women in an MV, it’s supposed to make it “exotic” and “Western”.
Don’t get me wrong here; I think it’s great that people in K-Pop want to show diversity.
But one of the reasons I appreciate K-Pop is because it does feature Asian men and women. As an Asian American, I’m used to seeing Caucasian actors and actresses in music videos, in lead roles in moves, etc., usually with the “token Asian” on the side.
I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong about featuring Caucasian actors (or actors of any other race). But I think it’s possible for an Asian woman to be just as “exotic”.
Race is always a sensitive topic, so I hope my comments won’t be misconstructed.
“But I think it’s possible for an Asian woman to be just as “exotic”.
You already have this stereotypical image in America about Asian women (China Doll stereotype, from geisha girls to mail-order brides.) Especially with the high rates of marriages between Caucasian men and Asian women.
Similar to the black women stereotypes, (Jezebel, Mammies, Sapphires etc..) So no you would not want to expand on the “Exotic” stereotype of Asian women. I definitely wouldn’t want to see the stereotypes of black women in Kpop MV’s just to say we were in there, we have enough of that here.
As a black american woman I do understand about having more representation in tv’s, movies, etc without being the “token” or “stereotype”. Truthfully I would like to see more Asian America’s have more success in America when it comes to music, Blasians tend to do well on this front. Even though Far East Movement has name recognition now, they kinda just had that one hit but nothing more substantial as another hit song.
I have said this before in another post and why Kpop in general will have a hard time in the west, especially when it comes to marketing in America. Actually if you look at America within this has played out on how they market certain artist to cross over into different genre’s or to become mainstream.
Madonna – Her debut album Everybody 1982 had a R&B feel, Sire records decided to portray the image of Madonna as a black artist since her picture did not appear on the single cover. However this misconception was cleared later when Madonna convinced Sire executives to allow her to shoot a music video for the song.
That’s just one example and has been used with other white artist, although we are not in 1982, they still use certain marketing tactics along racial lines.
Because we have an established Hispanic/Latino base in America it was easier for the Latin explosion in the 90’s to become a success BUT they still had to put out English albums even though their spanish albums were successes amongst Hispanics/Latinos, ie Selena, Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias.
I think the biggest thing you have to remember is that there is no post racial anything in America! Lucy Liu is getting hate for being the new Watson in Sherlock Holmes, hateful tweets and FB messages about Rue being a black girl in the Hunger Game movie (And if you read the books you do know that Rue & Thresh are black), even Michonne who is a main character in the Walking Dead graphic novels is already getting hate since she debuted in the season finale of the tv show.
People are still arguing over Parvati/Padma Patil and Cho Chang in Harry Potter, as qouted “I never pictured them as Indian/Asian!” This isn’t just coming from the older generation (Baby Boomers) it’s coming from the younger generation (Generation X/Y).
Saying all that…. I don’t know about Europe but It will still come down to who is Kpop going to market to in the US?
A good example of this is to compare NKOTB video Please Don’t Go Girl and Big Bang‘s MV for Bad Boy & Blue. Both MV’s were shot in Brooklyn, they have the same concepts in shooting in B/W, and if you also notice they avoid POC’s, even though Brooklyn is very diverse of POC’s. And they both took from the original New Edition’s Mr. Telephone Man who did not avoid POC’s.
It will be interesting to see the hurdles and adjustments KPOP will go through on the marketing end.
This reminds me of a concept we learned while doing a critical reading of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’. Apparently in the South of the 1930s, there was this whole ‘sacred feminine’ concept that was the underlying cause for much racial injustice. This concept basically send the message that the Southern woman was ‘sacred’ and ‘pure’ and those who dared touch her and sully the innocence in her were destined to be killed (this was mainly aimed at the Negro community as it was the prevalent attitude of the time that they were not to be trusted around their women). But ironically enough, it was the same men who wished for the ‘sacred female’ to remain that way were the ones who abused her, and treated her in a degrading manner
I dont know exactly how but I feel like what is happening in Korea today is sort of similar. Its not similar in the Negro-abusing-them-myth part but it seems like it is in the part about hypocritically deciding on one end that women are ‘innocent’ and their sexuality needs to be protected and practically promoting male sexuality at the same time, and on the other end of the spectrum, allowing blatant ‘degradation’ of the so-called pureness of the female by allowing choreography and outfits that are mentioned in the article to even exist.
Its awfully hard to point fingers because there is rarely one person to blame but its still funny that the guys banning this stuff are probably promoting it somewhere, somehow. And besides, when you ban something, it kind of adds to its value as it has an underlying ‘bad-ass factor’ attached to it.
Minnie_B on Naega Chae Chalaga: The Culture of Comparing:
I think there are a variety of factors that play into this concept. I do agree somewhat about Asian culture in general placing a heavy emphasis on rankings, “who’s #1” and “ideal types”. Koreans (in general) care a lot about what “others” think of them (whether it’s your neighbor, or in a larger sense, how they place in the international scene), and so this comparison tactic is not too surprising since many Asian cultures are extremely competitive, always trying to one-up each other in something. Ask almost any Asian person you know, and it’ll be very easy to see how they are compared to their cousins, siblings, friends, even in their own family, etc. on almost EVERY aspect of life (school, looks, intelligence…).
Despite these factors that no doubtedly help a LOT with magnifying this comparison attitude, I just think that the idol culture itself, no matter what country you’re from, adopts a lot of teenage exaggeration, blind support/love and behavior (no surprises there, since the majority of fans are teenagers). When you give pretty words to the impassioned youth that have all the free time in the world to “research” their biases and start fanwars online, it’s a recipe for disaster. Add to the fact that thousands of teens form their own community to love/hate/bash/stan together and it just encourages each other to follow this herd mentality and blind love. And some have no problem with it because it simply feels good to pick on a group or fanbase that is weak (ugly, but true).
Do I even have to get into the concept that a lot of the younger teens have been growing up with more and more sexualized and adult media right at their fingertips? And yes, sex and cursing and adult topics was always a part of pop culture, but social networking and YouTube didn’t really pick up until the mid-late 2000s, and by then my generation was already in middle/high school. Almost every young kid now has access to the internet and a lot of parents don’t bother to set restrictions. I see 10-year-olds that are growing up too fast on Kpop forums arguing about crap they don’t know sh*t about, using derogatory insults, swear words and having a rude or condescending attitude because they’ve been exposed to stuff and aren’t taught what is right. And it’s so easy to fall into that trap just because anyone these days can get on a computer and be in touch with topics that they are just not prepared for. So you not only have passionate teenagers with bucketloads of leisurely time, but immature teens who can give the nastiest arguments, don’t know how to respect someone in a discussion if they are oppose your ideas, and also think that they know everything.
Not ONLY that, but how talented are idols anyway? How much is really “enjoying the music” and artistry, and how much of that pleasure we receive from watching idols derive from seeing nice bodies, attractive gazes, beautiful clothes and fancy MVs? Let’s face it, a lot of Kpop AND idols from the UK/US is all about image, and image is SO replaceable, making idols disposable as well. When you are not actually talented, and all you are banking on is your pretty face, well, there’s plenty of other pretty faces on this earth to choose from if a company is not happy with an idol, and all you need is to just dress him up with make-up, eyelid surgery, autotune and presto, investment returned! Idols/companies/sponsors value popularity over ANYTHING else because it makes $$$, and for this industry there can really only be ONE person/group who is the MOST popular or the most beautiful, who is the “perfect” idol (all subjective areas with no real answer) – hence the endless competition spurred by fans.
This is not like Michael Jackson vs the Beatles vs Elvis Presley (or even Lady Gaga vs Beyonce vs Adele), who are all immensely popular and have contributed to the music scene in such significant ways because they are damn good at what they do. When idols are given recycled crap for lyrics, and the music is just a rip-off of whatever is trending right now, how can that help you become a more interesting and unique artist? What sets you apart from the millions of artists that made a name for themselves before you, and the millions afterward that threaten your position? What is your legacy that you leave behind if you don’t push your creative boundaries?
Bottom line for me: Yes, Asian culture and a highly saturated teenage fanbase contributes a lot to the Kpop environment. But because idols are so mainstream and preferred over more artistic musicians (because of its economic/cultural power), the nature of Kpop is not “popular Korean music” but I’d argue it’s “popular Korean IDOL music.” The idol culture (crazy fangirls and all) is so prevalent in Korea because the music scene is practically built on idols.
TLDR: Give entertainers crap music and you’ll get crap fans that compete over nothing to try to give their biases SOME form of respect since their music/talent can’t speak for themselves. Produce kick-ass work, and then genuine and long-lasting admiration will follow from both your peers and your listeners, and then your fangirls won’t have to argue pathetically for your case.
Widney Meridlen on Parents Just Don’t Understand: K-Drama’s Guide to Raising Kids:
1) Mothers should always revolve their whole world around their eldest son, put their hopes and dreams, all base their aspirations on the son or their husband’s status. if there is one think he wants to do but you disapprove of, threatened him with a good fake suicide attempts like starvation or take pills.
2) make sure that you treat you daughter-in-law like crap, because let’s face it who needs a maid when you have a live-in slave. And make sure that the son knows that he may be standing 2 feet away from the fridge, serving himself some water is a task to low for the likes of him because he has a penis.
3) When your sons make mistakes teach them to have no sense of responsibility by blaming everyone else but him. Because who cares about justice and the law when you can swim in a pool full of money.
Muneeb Ahmad on Exploring the “Japan Brand”: K-Pop Won’t Live Up to the Hype Forever:
Fantastic article and I’ve been waiting for something like this from SeoulBeats. ^_^
So lots of issues to discuss:
J-Pop is not really my thing and I’d take K-pop over J-pop any day. I think in another article on SB I stated why K-pop will struggle to dominate the west, well it’s the same reason why J-pop before it also struggled. The cultural differences are just too great and the stars just aren’t marketed or prepared properly at all.
In terms of K-pop in Japan, everyone is trying to make it big in Japan as doing so, in theory, should increase sales, awareness and international standings for artists. However as we now know this isnt always the case and Japan is seen as a very important goal to reach for any artists, with it being one of the biggest out of the South East Asian countries as well as the most advanced. Making it in Japan, holds a lot of prestige which is ironic given the very tense relations between Japan, North & South Korea and China in the past and present.
I personally believe that due to these tense relations, the reluctance of Japanese consumerism to change and the fact that too many Korean artists are just in it for the money when it comes to Japanese entertainment industries, means K-pop will fall from its current moment in the spotlight.
The reason why some stars, e.g. SNSD, can get away with it is because of the shiny, polished, perfectionist agenda of Korean entertainment companies which love to make their artists seem all perfect and like a person to be worshiped and not merely followed. Others, like KARA and BoA, actually have something good to offer, and I’m not just saying that because I like KARA and BoA. :P
I think the Oricon CEO, Koike Koh, put it very clearly:
“Girls’ Generation debuted in Japan with their showcase at the Tokyo Ariake Colosseum. Although it was just a mini live performance for the fans who had purchased their CD, I was very surprised at how intensely young Japanese women responded to Girls’ Generation. None of other industry professionals, nor I, had ever imagined that young women could respond to a girl group like that. The marketing strategy of SM Entertainment and Universal Japan that targeted young female fans, was very effective.”
See what I mean? Really effective marketing, but marketing campaigns can only get you by for so long…
As for J-pop, well like I said, that hasn’t got a hope in hell of achieving outside fame. I hate to say it but their naming for bands is terrible and their dress sense is really off putting. I mean REALLY off putting. For a country which is obsessed with designer goods you’d think that it would translate to their entertainment industry but apparently not, just more suits or tacky school girl outfits.
But one thing I will say is that Japanese people love to watch the stars grow and mature with time, are a lot more closer to the fans without all this idol, anti-fans, etc. business that Korean like to pop out of nowhere with (in fact I still don’t understand 50% of K-pop terminology) and I suspect the J-Artists probably have a lot more freedom and creativity over their work, certainly I have noticed a more down-to-earth and laid-back, ‘normal’ approach from them which is more than I can say for K-Artists. So perhaps Korean can learn something from Japan?
OK I will shut up now since I realized I have blabbed on like crazy! Whoops! :D
And that’s a wrap for this week! Enjoy the rest of your weekend and stay fabulous~